‘Rent control to grow home ownership’ - investigation opens into London’s crisis

Tom Copley told the housing committee every penny Londoners save on rent “is a penny that they could be putting towards a deposit”.
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Young Londoners are “much more likely” to rent privately and would benefit the most from rent regulation, the capital’s deputy mayor for housing has said.

Tom Copley was speaking to the London Assembly’s housing committee today (June 6) as it began an investigation into young people’s access to home ownership in the capital.

Fielding questions on several of the Sadiq Khan’s headline affordable homes schemes, such as his London Living Rent (LLR) initiative, Mr Copley spoke about the potential benefits of rent control for young people.

Mr Copley said “a lot more” needs to be done to increase homeownership in London, given less than 10% of those aged 16-24 currently own the place they live in, compared to a quarter in 1990.

Asked by committee chair and Conservative assembly member Shaun Bailey how rent control would help, Mr Copley said young Londoners are “much more likely” to rent privately. He said this means they will be particularly liable to benefit, saying, that for young Londoners, “every penny that they’re saving on their rent is a penny that they could be putting towards a deposit”.

On the potential risks associated with rent control, he said: “I don’t think that any policy is without risks. I think it’s about how you minimise and mitigate those risks. I think the key thing about what the mayor’s proposals for rent control are is this is not about lifting and implementing some system from another city or another country and plonking it on London and saying: ‘Here we go, let’s just go with it.’

“He’s developed his London model, with some key principles, and he will set up a London Rent Commission, which will include a whole range of experts and stakeholders, who would devise and implement a system that would work for London.”

He said any scheme would need to be designed to avoid a reduction in housebuilding in the build-to-rent sector.

‘The power is very much towards the landlord’

Recent data from Hamptons found the average monthly cost for a newly let property in the capital had reached a record £2,210 in April, the first time it had gone above £2,200.

The London Renters Union (LRU) called on the government to implement a rent freeze following the publication of the research, saying otherwise renters are condemned to “the same insecurity we have known for the last 35 years”.

The group welcomed the long-overdue introduction of the Renters’ Reform Bill, which had its first reading in parliament in May and which aims to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ convictions. However, it said rent regulation is key to providing security for those in the private rental market.

Commenting on the renting crisis, Mr Copley told the committee: “The private rented sector in this country, and in London, is insecure and uncertain. We’ve seen this quite clearly very recently, with some of the very large rent increase demands that people have been facing, and of course because of the way the private rented sector in this country operates, the power is very much towards the landlord. That makes it very, very difficult for tenants to push back on any landlord rent increase demand.”

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